Travel firms upbeat about holiday tours

The water park at Vinpearl Land on Phu Quoc Island. According to travel fi rms, Phu Quoc has attracted more bookings as Vinpearl Resort and its entertainment complex Vinpearl Land have just been up and running on the island - PHOTO: KIEU GIANG

Ngoc Trai Preliminary statistics of travel companies in the city showed bookings of domestic and overseas tours during the New Year holiday are at least 10% higher than the same period last year. Tran Thi Bao Thu, marketing and communications director of Fiditour Joint Stock Company, told the Daily that bookings of the company’s New Year tour programs have gone up 25-28% year-on-year. The best-selling tours take in coastal areas such as Phu Quoc and Nha Trang and northern destinations Hanoi and Sapa, as well as Singapore and Thailand. A number of tour operators have stopped receiving new bookings of Sapa tours on certain days. Thu said Fiditour has sold out HCMC-Sapa tours which cost nearly VND7 million per person. Huynh Thanh Viet, retail director of Lua Viet Tours, said more guests have chosen Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang and destinations in central Vietnam to spend their vacations. The number of buyers of Phu Quoc trips arranged by the company has surged … [Read more...]

Heritage at stake

Phuong Thao The idea floated last week by authorities of the central Quang Binh Province to build a cable car system connecting caves, probably including the world’s biggest Son Doong, has sent heritage conservationists and the like-minded into an uproar. Amid public and expert concerns about the possible impact of a cable car system on the jaw-dropping cave, local authorities explain that they have consulted Swiss experts, who point out that many World Heritage Sites across the globe now have cable car systems. A VND4.5-trillion project to develop a cable car system in Son Doong is claimed to be the most environmentally friendly and do little harm to the site. Moreover, according to the province, an increase in tourist arrivals would create more jobs for locals, thus improving the quality of life of local communities. … [Read more...]

Vietnam travel firm probed over abuse of dominance

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The Vietnamese competition watchdog has opened an investigation into a local travel arranger that has allegedly abused its predominant market position in several resort localities, it was announced Wednesday. The probe into Anh Duong Co Ltd was launched following initial investigation results from a lawsuit filed in late April by ABTours, another travel agency, according to a fiat signed Tuesday by Bach Van Mung, head of the Vietnam Competition Authority. … [Read more...]

Chinese tourists resume visits to Vietnam despite tensions

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Chinese tourists resume visits to Viet Nam despite tensions Viet Nam ensures the security and safety of foreign tourists visiting the country, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said yesterday. At his working session with the northern province of Quang Ninh, the deputy minister said that Chinese tourists have, in recent days, resumed tours to Viet Nam, mainly through the border gates in the northern provinces of Lang Son, Lao Cai and Quang Ninh. According to Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People's Committee, Vu Thi Thu Thuy, Chinese tourists travelled through the Mong Cai international border gate on tours to the province and other localities organised by Chinese travel companies. … [Read more...]

Vacation choices entice students

HCM CITY (VNS) — Travel companies in HCM City have launched several special tours at affordable prices to meet the summer demand. Lua Viet Tours, one of the city's leading tour operators, is offering a dozen domestic tours and several others to Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. At VND5-7 million, tours to the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) region and Phu Quoc and Con Dao are the most popular, especially among children in secondary school looking for new adventures with family and friends. Young people also like tours to famous destinations in the north like Dien Bien Phu, Sa Pa, and Ha Long though they are more expensive, costing at least VND9 million. … [Read more...]

Tourists beef about Vietnam ancient town’s entry ticket, authorities justify it

Over the past week tourists said they were surprised and disappointed with not only the aggressive guards but also the charge itself given that many people just wanted to walk, shop, or eat in the town. PHOTO: NGUYEN TU

A top local official has defended the entry fee imposed on visitors to Hoi An, saying it is needed to raise funds for preservation, but promised to soon improve the way it is collected following protests from tourists. Nguyen Su, the town party committee chief, told Thanh Nien Wednesday he would meet with other authorities to discuss measures to deal with the complaints, and promised to brief the media by weekend on the outcome. He admitted that the unfriendly attitude of some security guards who harassed visitors on the streets needs to be corrected. It is understandable that tourists who have bought the ticket and are staying in Hoi An are annoyed when asked for it each time they return to town, he said. "We told the guards Tuesday to let individual tourists go if they say they have bought the ticket." In the past week tourists have complained of being harassed or even chased down the streets by guards for the fee. Vo Phung, director of the Hoi An Culture and Sports … [Read more...]

Ho Chi Minh City’s Famtrip delegation visits Phu Yen

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(TITC) - Organized by Lua Viet Tours in collaboration with Phu Yen Tourism Promotion Information Center, the Famtrip delegation surveyed tourism products in Phu Yen from 14th to 16th March 2014. In attendance were tour operators, journalists, photographers in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to surveying restaurant, hotel services and related services, the delegation has also visited such key tourist routes, destinations of the province as Ghenh Da Dia (Rapids of Stone Plates), Mang Lang Church, An Hai food court, Ngoc Lang vegetable village, Nhan Tower, Bai Mon - Mui Dien, No-number ship vestige in Vung Ro port… According to Mr. Nguyen Van My - Chairman of Lua Viet Tours, Phu Yen has enormous sea tourism potential and services can meet demand of tourists. Through this survey, tour operators have better understanding about Phu Yen tourism to enrich their travel itineraries and journalists can contribute to promoting Phu Yen tourism with their tourist articles and photos thanks … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s Sa Pa to lose its natural beauty for a tramway

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Tycoon wants to cover Sa Pa's mountains in more concrete and metal in the form of a massive resort-entertainment-golf complex that includes a tram to the top of Fansipan Local ethnic minority guides and tourists climbing the Fansipan Peak on foot. Experts are concerned that Fansipan, Indochina's highest mountain, and the resort town of Sa Pa, will lose much of their natural beauty to an aerial tramway and several other recreational facilities that will be built in the next two years. Photo by Ngoc Thang The Sun Group has broken ground for the construction of an aerial tramway connecting Sa Pa and Fansipan - the tallest peak in Indochina - prompting fears that one of Vietnam's most beautiful natural landscapes will no longer be so natural. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and former Party chief Le Kha Phieu attended the ceremony and issued a "groundbreaking order" for building the tramway, expected to be the "longest, highest and most complicated" aerial tramway in the … [Read more...]

Vietnam hub slammed for failing to protect tourists

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Occasional police crackdowns have no positive effects; muggings, scams continue A street vendor offers a stamp album to a foreign tourist outside the Notre Dame Catheral in Ho Chi Minh City. City authorities have launched a crackdown on criminals targeting tourists in an action slammed by experts as failing to solve the problems thoroughly. Photo by Diep Duc Minh Ann Mari Johns was careful to bring only her phone card and a hotel business card in her bag when she walked out of Ho Chi Minh City's Mövenpick Hotel on July 25. Once the Australian tourist was a few blocks from the hotel, two men on a motorbike snatched her bag and sped away. Luckily, traffic police officer Tu Quang Tan was on duty nearby, saw the incident, and gave chase. RELATED CONTENT Vietnam Deputy PM slams Hanoi management of taxisDa Nang launches services to combat crime against touristsDeputy PM orders HCMC to get serious in mafia-protected taxis Like us on Facebook and scroll down to share your … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s hotspot hotels going for the gold online

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Hotels in Vietnam are raking in the dough by favoring individual bookings made on foreign travel websites that charge exorbitant rates, which is gouging local travel agencies seeking to secure reservations for larger tour groups Foreign tourists stroll down a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Many hotels and resorts in Vietnam are prioritizing individual bookings made online over tour groups which go through local travel agencies to maximize profits. PHOTO: DIEP DUC MINH Several Ho Chi Minh City tourism companies were recently unable to make reservations for a group of 50 tourists on Phu Quoc Island because they wanted to stay in the same hotel. But it was not because the hotels did not have enough available rooms. Minh Thanh, manager of a tourism company in HCMC said no resort on Phu Quoc agreed to book rooms for all 50 tourists. "It's tourism high season and they want to save the rooms for individual tourists," she added. Many hotels and resorts in Vietnam are prioritizing … [Read more...]

Dubious agents give bad name to tourism industry

Several officials of large travel companies have pointed out various shortcomings in the industry and proposed ways to improve domestic tourism services. Tourists left to protect themselves against dubious travel agents According to the Vietnam Society of Travel Agents (VISTA), around 1,000 foreign and 10,000 domestic tourism firms are currently operating in Vietnam. However they estimate that only around half of them are reputable. A number of companies have been established with names very similar to well-known travel firms so as to fool customers. "This can be very confusing for tourists, and make it difficult for them to distinguish which company can be trusted," said the director of Lua Viet Tours Company, Nguyen Van My. Le Thi Nhu Ha, Deputy Director of Peace Tour Company said, "One day some customers came to file complaints about our services. After checking the information, we found that another company had taken a name very similar to ours and had copied our … [Read more...]

Vietnam private security firms flout laws to escort ‘VIPs’

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Lack of regulation allows reckless, rude and potentially dangerous security companies to run amok Motorists of the Ho Chi Minh City Bicycle and Motorbike Federation. Motorbike escorts are not allowed to disrupt traffic under Vietnamese law. Guards from Titan Security Company raised hell while escorting an Australian motivational speaker's vehicle through Ho Chi Minh City two weeks ago. They did it mostly because they could. On May 24, HCMC traffic police seized at least three large capacity motorbikes and a car used by Titan to escort Nick Vujicic's vehicle through town. The guards were caught on video blaring sirens continuously and using clubs to clear traffic for Vujicic's group from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC to a hotel in District 1. Like most security companies providing road escort services, Titan was operating illegally because bodyguards are not allowed to control traffic. Tran Thanh Tra, HCMC traffic police chief, said security companies are allowed to … [Read more...]

Vietnam tourist police: overdue measure or just another copout?

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Hanoi proposal to set up tourist police force slammed as ill-conceived, wasteful Street vendors pester foreign tourists in Hue. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has been asked by its department in Hanoi to establish a police force that specializes in protecting tourists in the capital city. Authorities in the capital city of Hanoi have proposed establishing a special police force charged with maintaining tourist security but experts said such a force would be ineffective, calling the plan wasteful. Nguyen Van My, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Lua Viet Tours, said such a force would be costly, but unproductive. "The system is already bulky and inflated - it will only increase the burden on taxpayers," he said. "Will the tourist police specialize in protecting tourists exclusively? When dealing with thieves and pickpockets, will they stop to make sure the victims are tourists before pursuing the suspects?" Last week, the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports … [Read more...]

Vietnam needs to capitalize on newfound flow of Russian tourists

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Russian tourists stroll down a street in Khanh Hoa Province's Nha Trang Town. The number of Russian tourists coming to Vietnam has surged recently, but insiders warn that the country needs to map out careful strategies to maximize profits over the long haul. Russian tourists have been flocking to coastal destinations such as Binh Thuan Province, Ninh Thuan Province and Nha Trang Town in recent years, spending a lot of money, forcing local service providers to pay more attention to them, Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Saigon Marketing) newspaper reported Wednesday. Nguyen Van My, chairman of Lua Viet Tours in Ho Chi Minh City, said many of the providers may have come to rely too heavily on Russian customers. "The number of Russian tourists has increased phenomenally, but the numbers will fall off eventually," he said, adding that the country needs careful, comprehensive strategies that will draw tourists from all over the world rather than sporadic, hastily conceived promotions aimed at … [Read more...]

Smartphone app for cab users a soft touch

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New hi-tech solution will have very limited impact on vexing problem of taxi fraud, authorities yet to show real intent, experts say Fake taxis in front of the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1. The area is notorious for the presence of fake taxis backed by criminal gangs that extort exorbitant fares from unsuspecting locals and foreign tourists. Stories about foreign visitors and locals being ripped off by taxis keep cropping up relentlessly in media reports, making people wonder whether there is really any genuine interest in dealing with the problem, particularly in the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Now, a hi-tech solution is being touted as a breakthrough, but skeptics abound. Experts and industry insiders say the new solution - a free application for smartphones - will certainly help in the fight against overcharging cabbies and fake taxis, helping passengers identify licensed taxis, the best route and the right fare. However, they also said it … [Read more...]

Tourism bodies want to keep visa waiver

by Le Hung Vong The HCM City Tourism Association continues to petition the Government to retain the visa waiver scheme for nationals of seven countries — and in fact to expand it — and not to hike visa fees. It held a seminar on "The necessity to continue visa waver for visitors from major markets" in HCM City two weeks ago. Participants at the seminar agreed that the visa exemption for single-entry visits of up to 15 days for Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, South Korean, and Swedish nationals has fostered the development of the tourism industry in the last decade. "It [scrapping the waiver] would have a serious impact on the development of the tourism industry," the association wrote to Viet Nam News. The scheme is likely to be suspended after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently said it caused revenue losses of around US$50 million to the Government. The ministry criticised the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism for failing to take advantage of … [Read more...]

Visa waiver could go

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering overturning its policy of allowing visitors from certain countries to enter Vietnam without a visa Foreign tourists stroll down a street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnam National Association of Tourism has urged the government not to overturn a visa waiver that allows visitors from seven Asian and European countries to enter the country without visas. The government may no longer waive the need for visas for nationals of seven Asian and European countries, and experts are worried the move could hurt tourism that has been booming despite the economic downturn. The Vietnam National Association of Tourism has urged the government not to do so, its chairman, Nguyen Huu Tho, told Vietweek on Monday (April 15), and is hopeful it would pay heed. Between 2004 and 2009 Vietnam unilaterally waived visas for single-entry visits of up to 15 days for Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, South Korean, and Swedish … [Read more...]

A tourism paradox: more visitors, less business

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Going by official accounts, Vietnam is welcoming more and more visitors every year, but businesses are struggling to survive The national tourism administration cites "pleasant" figures for 2012, but most stakeholders - travel firms, transportation companies and hotels - are wearing glum countenances. Latest statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) showed that around 4.17 million foreign tourists visited the country last year, up 14.2 percent from the year before, while local tourists increased 8.3 percent at 32.5 million. Overall, tourism revenues rose 23 percent to reach VND160 trillion (US$7.59 billion), the agency said. VNAT chief Nguyen Van Tuan was quoted by Van Hoa (Culture) Online - the news website of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism - as saying: "The figures that the national tourism industry achieved last year were pleasant, given that both the local and world economies faced many difficulties." However, … [Read more...]

Fee increases make travel firms worried to death

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VietNamNet Bridge - The Ministry of Finance's decision to raise the fees and charges on travelers has made travel firms worried stiff. They fear that the higher fees would keep travelers away.   The ministry's Circular No. 190 stipulates that from January 1, 2013, the visa granting fee would be nearly double the previous level. Travelers would have to pay US$80 to obtain the visa with the validity of up to one year, $100 for the visa to be valid for 1-2 years, and $120 for 2-3 year visa. The above said visa granting visas would certainly put a heavier burden on the enterprises which hire foreign workers, because they would have to pay additional money on the visas for expat workers. The regulation may help encourage Vietnamese enterprises to employ Vietnamese workers instead of expats. However, in fact, despite the increasingly high costs for foreign workers, a lot of companies still have to hire foreigners, because Vietnamese workers still cannot undertake the jobs … [Read more...]